K Street Files: From Groceries to Chemicals

Posted July 9, 2008 at 6:46pm

There’s much movement afoot in the top slots at some of Washington’s most prominent associations. In the latest switch, announced Wednesday, the American Chemistry Council tapped former Democratic Rep. Cal Dooley (Calif.) to lead its association.

[IMGCAP(1)]Dooley, 54, is currently the president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He will take over the helm of the ACC on Sept. 8.

Dooley will replace Jack Gerard, 50, a longtime association executive, who in three years at ACC made sweeping staff changes, stepped up the group’s Hill- lobbying efforts, and launched a high-profile advertising and advocacy campaign. Gerard announced in early June that he was leaving ACC to run the American Petroleum Institute, taking over the long-held slot of retiring Red Cavaney.

“We are very excited about Cal coming to ACC,” said Bob Wood, chairman of the ACC board of directors and the CEO of member company Chemtura, in a statement. “Cal’s knowledge of industry, his excellent bi-partisan reputation on Capitol Hill, his savvy business sense, and his political acumen make him a great choice to lead our association.”

While in Congress, Dooley, who served from 1991 to 2005, was known as a moderate, pro-business Member and founder of the New Democrat Coalition. Nels Olson, managing director of the Washington office for Korn/Ferry, conducted the search for ACC.

A spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association said the group is in the initial phase of searching for Dooley’s replacement. GMA has put together a small committee that over the coming weeks and months will be tasked with finding a new chief.

GMA joins another big food lobbying group, the Food Marketing Institute, which is also searching for a top executive because its CEO and president, Tim Hammonds, 65, has announced plans to retire once a successor is named.

Beefing Up. The Renewable Fuels Association, a group that lobbies for ethanol interests and is often at odds with food groups such as the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association, has added a new lobbyist. Edward Hubbard Jr. has joined the group as its new director of tax and trade. Hubbard formerly was legislative director for then-Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.), who lost a primary election and then resigned to join the firm Dickstein Shapiro.

“As crude oil prices creep towards $150 per barrel, we cannot afford to sit on our hands and hope the growing energy and environmental problems our nation faces disappear,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen.

Shielding Freedom of Speech. A group of a dozen journalists turned lobbyists will be on Capitol Hill today and Friday to urge the Senate to pass a federal shield law for reporters. The bill known as the Free Flow of Information Act would permit reporters to keep secret the names of confidential sources from prosecutors and judges.

Clint Brewer, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and executive editor of Nashville’s City Paper, said the dozen “lobbyists” hail from newspapers from all over the country and also include journalism students and journalism educators. They will meet with champions of the bill as well as those opposed, he said.

“We’re trying to take the message to the Senators that the need for a federal shield law isn’t just in Washington, D.C., but all across the country,” he said.

A similar reporter shield law passed the House last year 398-21.

The Senate measure would give journalists protection from judges and prosecutors who otherwise can compel them to give up their sources and turn over their notes. “At the same time, it is not a free pass for journalists,” said Brewer, who added that exchanging his editor hat for a lobbyist one is “not entirely comfortable.” Still, he said, “this is work the SPJ has done for almost 100 years. Our ability to do our jobs is under attack.”

Brewer already seems to have taken to the ways of K Street: He declined to name the Senators with whom the group is meeting.

The Hill meetings were organized by an outside team from Baker & Hostetler including partner Bruce Brown and associate Laurie Babinski. Babinski noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that he will schedule the bill for a vote this month. “Our timing couldn’t be better on this one,” she said.

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